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Former pilot's Norfolk flight simulator business fails to take off

PUBLISHED: 11:34 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:54 02 May 2019

Business writer Caroline Culot at the controls of a flight simulator plane having a go at Sim-Fly when it opened in Felthorpe in January. Pic: Archant.

Business writer Caroline Culot at the controls of a flight simulator plane having a go at Sim-Fly when it opened in Felthorpe in January. Pic: Archant.

A former pilot has closed down his flight simulator business after it failed to get off the ground following a relocation to a new airfield.

John Hoyte, a former BAe training captain, who has closed his business Sim-Fly. Pic: Archant.John Hoyte, a former BAe training captain, who has closed his business Sim-Fly. Pic: Archant.

John Hoyte has stopped running Sim-Fly Norfolk just three months after moving the “entertainment experience” from Old Buckenham to Felthorpe airfield.

The former BAe training captain said: “Sim-Fly Norfolk has had to close down after starting a unique type of public entertainment in 2015. We naturally regret the disappointment caused.”

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Sim-Fly was the brainchild of Mr Hoyte, who fell in love with flying aged just four, and who retired in 2005. It gave people the complete experience of flying planes over the Norfolk countryside without them ever leaving the ground.

Mr Hoyte explained: “I have 'flown' with more than 2,000 members of the Norfolk public since 2015 but voucher sales for the experience were disappointing.” He said he also wanted to concentrate more on his long legal battle over aerotoxic syndrome.

“The main reason was that in late March 2019 it was announced that the long-awaited legal action into aerotoxic syndrome had begun and, as a matter of public health, would be a priority and significant distraction for me in the future.

“I found the many different aspects of running the company too challenging – it was like running a small airline. Pilots find flying easy but not administration.”

Mr Hoyte has always believed that aerotoxic syndrome exists, the phrase first coined in 2000 to describe claims of short and long-term ill-health effects caused by breathing airliner cabin air which was alleged to have been contaminated to toxic levels with atomised engine oils or other chemicals.

A legal row ensued but following a government investigation, the claims were initially unsubstantiated. People like Mr Hoyte have persevered, however, in a bid to get the syndrome recognised and an aerotoxic syndrome association was set up in 2007.

Mr Hoyte is focusing on the issue and hopes the recent decision by Easyjet to put in sensors into aircraft to monitor a range of things like temperature, humidity and light conditions will also detect the problem.

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